This year, Deaf Awareness Week is held on 2nd until 8th May. There are numerous organisations which help to support people who are deaf all year round.
Action on Hearing Loss, Royal Association for Deaf People, and UK Council on Deafness are just three of many, many more. Organisations such as these offer a community whereby people are able to read and communicate on their forums and get involved. Several types of support is available such as, rights and benefits, research and influencing, access to work, and healthcare – to name a few.
I remember communicating with my first ever deaf customer when I worked in retail. At first, the situation scared me but then I learnt of ways to communicate with them. For example, using particular gestures and showing them different products enabled them to give me a facial expression in order to indicate if they liked it or not.
It is important to give eye contact and speak clearly, not for hearing but for their vision. Sometimes, deaf people are able to lip read which helps them to receive a message more clearly. Where there have been instances where I have struggled with this approach, I have used pen and paper to simply draw a picture or diagram to try to communicate the message that I am trying to get across.
There is nothing wrong with the times where you may need to repeat yourself, whether it be speech or a gesture/bodily movement. It is important to remember that, each deaf person can communicate in their own unique way – where of course there are certain methods in place that we can try.
One thing that I have never learnt is, sign language. For those who have and use it to communicate are inspirational people. There are several benefits of using sign language to communicate with the deaf – amongst the vital purpose that, the more people who learn sign language, the more they are promoting to others that they can learn it to. In turn, this helps more deaf people feel involved and be able to participate in a visual communication.
An early exposure to sign language is even better. From an early age, we use symbols and shapes as a form of communication development, therefore, using signs for language is something which our bodies can recognise well.
By using sign language, you may as well class yourself as being bilingual. You are communicating with others who understand that language, and for many people, it can be their mother tongue of learning and understanding messages and their context.
According to Hands Speak, ‘Bilingualism is a great booster for brains.” as it uses a high level of creative thinking. If you think about it, sign language is used in many professions. Especially those where we communicate with animals. Have you ever been to a dolphin show? Think about how the instructors used gestures to communicate with the dolphins in order to say what is next.
In addition, consider those who work in the army. They use signals. Or how about teachers – from nursery and onwards, we are exposed to a world where we love to see the pictures in a book and we learn mathematics through equations and symbols. The way in which the deaf (and the same goes for the blind), can communicate is something so beautiful and inspiring.
There is much more technology nowadays which can be used to assist deaf people via methods of communications such as scenarios when they are using a computer or mobile phone.
They cannot hear birds tweeting in the morning nor can they hear the sea waves when they walk along the beach. But they do fully appreciate life in the way that they learn other methods to take in what nature there is in the world. They can use their other sense of touch, sight, smell, and taste to experience this.
I remember my granny having to wear a hearing aid in one of her ears. I never used to think about the implications. I never questioned it. It was not for a very long period of time but is was caused by age as she got older. When we consider those who have worn a hearing aid since such a young age, it is good to see the impacts and changes that it has had in their lives. Granny used to always say that, “Patience is a virtue.” And she was certainly right.
Keep an eye out for different companies, charities and other media which are promoting Deaf Awareness Week. It takes one small moment to share a campaign or piece of awareness. Coronation Street is just one organisation to use as an example as they have been working with ITV SignPost in order to celebrate Deaf Awareness Week.
Read more here.